Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Five whiskies for St. Patrick's Day

Today is St. Patrick's Day, the national day of Ireland. We thought it fitting that we should put together a post featuring some of our favourite Irish whiskies that we have tasted to date. The tradition of having a dram of whiskey with a pint of Guinness is one that will be followed by millions across the globe this evening. The most popular Irish whiskies by volume of sales are Jameson and Bushmills and plenty of drams of these will be sunk tonight. We have reviewed these but we thought we should champion some of the excellent but maybe lesser known Irish whiskies that will go well with a pint of the black stuff. Enjoy!

connemara peated single maltConnemara Single Malt
Connemara is produced at the Cooley distillery in County Louth - a distillery located roughly half way between Dublin and Belfast. Connemara is the only Irish whisky that is regularly produced in the peaty style and Cooley follow the original recipe from the old Connemara distillery that was located on the western Galway coast. The colour is light gold and the nose is has aromas of heather, honey, vanilla and soft earthy peat smoke. On the palate, there is more honey and vanilla, nuts (think of almonds), malty cereals and woody oak. The smokiness seems stronger and has an earthy, mossy edge to it. The smoke is prominent on the finish that mixes sweet honey and vanilla with drier, spicier oak and cinnamon notes. A lovely dram that combines the softness of an Irish whiskey with the more robust smoky notes of a Scottish island whisky.

greenore 8 years oldGreenore 8 years old
This is a limited batch single grain whiskey that is made at the Cooley distillery in County Louth. Greenore is unique as it is the only Irish grain whiskey that is regularly released. Grain whiskies contain no barley but are made from a mixture of other grains. The colour is vibrant gold and the nose has cereal, honey and oaky coconut aromas. On the palate, this is smooth and sweet with lots of distinct cereal grains (think of the more bitter husks especially) vanilla, honey, almonds and warm spices (think of ginger and nutmeg). This is very full bodied, creamy and melts in your mouth. The finish is warm and honeyed with plenty of enjoyable bitter cereal notes and a good dry woodiness at the end. If you have never sampled grain whiskey before, then try this one as it is an excellent example.

paddy old irish whiskeyPaddy Old Irish
This whiskey is named after the legendary whisky salesman Paddy Flaherty and is currently made at the Midleton distillery in County Cork. The colour is pale golden yellow and the nose is aromatic and clean. There is fresh vanilla, malted cereals, honey, nuts (think of almonds and hazelnuts), oak and grass notes (imagine dried grasses or hay). On the palate, this is mild, soft and light with mellow malted barley, vanilla, honey, sweet coconut, toffee, more grassiness (dried hay again), toasted nuts (almonds especially) and woody spice (think of cinnamon). The finish is soft, sweet and very malty and grainy. An easy drinking and uncomplicated dram. To read our full review of Paddy - click here.

powers gold labelPower's Gold Label
One of Ireland's most popular and oldest whiskies (it was first produced in 1791). Power's is currently made at the Midleton distillery in County Cork. The colour is golden yellow with a delicate, light nose. It is sweet with a combination of aromas - cereal grains, vanilla, caramel and a floral honeysuckle note. On the palate, this feels light, soft and creamy. There is a distinct, slightly bitter grainy character that is joined by sweeter elements such as vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and nuts (especially hazelnuts and almonds). A herbal note appears (imagine dried grass) and gives a good balance. The finish is short but smooth, sweet and warming with grassiness, vanilla and cereal notes. The whiskey is not the most complex but is extremely well balanced and enjoyable. To read our full review of Power's - click here.

redbreast 12 years oldRedbreast 12 years old
This is a pure pot still whiskey produced at the Midleton distillery. Pot stills are frequently used in Ireland and these are short, fat, large stills that produce softer and more rounded spirits. The spirit is further softened by being distilled three times, instead of twice in Scotland. Redbreast has a golden, slightly amber colour and the nose is light and fresh with some vanilla, honey and fruitiness (like fresh apples and pears). On the palate, these notes are prominent and are joined by dried fruit (imagine raisins and sultanas), ginger and a bit of spiciness (think of cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper) right at the end. It is creamy and rich but very fresh. The finish is long, complex and very well balanced. A top dram - this is one of our favourite Irish whiskies.


Gal Granov said...

i actually tasted a wee dram of the Connemara peated. it was really nicer very smooth, with just balanced peatiness.
we celebrate St. P's at an irish pub (kfir and I)


Dreff said...

There will be about a dozen great Irish whiskies for tasting at the Whiskies of the World Expo on March 27th.

Check it out!